The Awesome Might of Hanggai

I knew almost nothing about Hanggai prior to catching their set at the Melkweg in Amsterdam over the weekend. “They’re Mongolian punk rockers,” I was told. Really, that’s all I needed to know. I was sold.

Lead-singer Yiliqi took the stage like a 14th century warlord who had just jumped off a warhorse backstage. Dressed in leather, he stomped up to the mic and proceeded sing about his homeland and eagles. Or at least that’s what I assume he was singing about. My Mongolian is a bit rusty.

The music itself is hard to describe. The band’s influences range from Asian folk music to Rage Against the Machine and Neil Diamond. One second, they’re throat-singing, the next they’re plucking banjos and singing a drinking song worthy of a hoedown. Here’s a description from a recent article in Unfold

And as we’ve stated a few times in all that time, Hanggai is far from being either a novelty act or a token ‘world music’ act. Sure their songs of horses, great plains and strong booze is masked by language, but their blend of folk, rock and the remnants of their punk past are an international calling card. As for the traditional costumes and throat singing, it’s just a natural fit. Oh, and they’re far from being that museum piece once propositioned by the Tropentheater; rather they’re a Mongolian party band perfect for a Saturday night.

A group of drunken Dutch guys next to us looked like they were going to talk all the way through the show. The second Hanggai took the stage, they were enthralled, bouncing around like they were pumping themselves up for battle. The band’s spirit really is that infectious. Here’s a clip from the Hanggai’s encore. See if you can make it all the way to the end without reaching for the nearest battle axe…


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3 Responses to The Awesome Might of Hanggai

  1. Meriwether says:

    I love them. I am planning on going to Mongolia. I think this is my new favorite band.

  2. Meriwether says:

    I thought I left a reply here, but I don’t see it. I freaking love this band! Thank you!

  3. Hey, Meriwether. Glad you like ’em. Sorry for the confusion over comments. I up’ed the restrictions because of spam and some problems with a flamer back in August. If you go to Mongolia, please take lots of photos and post them on Facebook. A Dutch journalist I hung around with last week just got back from a trip there. She drank yak milk and got into all sorts of adventures.

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